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Book Review - Blues Insider - A Quarter of a Century with Birmingham City

Monday 4th December 2017

Football today is big business. What happens in the Boardroom is just as important as what is happening on the pitch. A club’s very existence could be at stake as clubs try to find a balance between risk and reward. Keith Dixon is both a businessman and a fan. In ‘Blues Insider’ he speaks with authority as he goes behind the scenes at his club, Birmingham City. He offers depth and insight of the men in charge. Their relationships, the deals, finances and politics. A volatile mix that makes for fascinating reading.

Title: Blues Insider – A Quarter of a Century with Birmingham City
Author: Keith Dixon
Publisher: Pitch Publishing​​​​​​​
Date Published: 2017​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​Price: £12.99

While Birmingham City may have had little to write about in terms of footballing success, the activities at the top level of the club rival that of any team in the country. In the last 25 years, there has been the collapse of Samesh Kumar Empire and the near-fatal impact on the team. The ups and downs of the high profile Sullivan, Gold and Brady years. The revelations behind the Carson Yeung ownership and the controversial ‘new direction’ under the current Chinese directors.   

Every football club will, at some point, have new owners. It is a complicated business that Dixon explains in a manner understandable to the everyday fan. His work includes a diary format of the Blues takeover with contributions from those at the cutting edge. The lawyers, accountants and businessmen. The offers, counteroffers, rumours, speculation, demands and obstacles, make for fascinating reading. All the more gripping by Birmingham’s continual demise in the league and the backdrop of relegation and its potential consequences.

Dixon takes the reader into the commercial operations of the club. Reviewing the public relations revolution and the personalities around the Sullivan, Gold and Brady years. Three owners, along with Premier League promotion, that put Birmingham very much in the public eye.

However ‘Blues Insider’ is not just about the financials. It goes much deeper into Birmingham as a community club. Dixon is central to this with his involvement in the Bluenose executive lunch club and the former players association amongst many other activities. He helps players to reconnect with the club and the community to benefit. He strives for a Birmingham City that recognising its roots, history and traditions.

All this though is against the backdrop of foreign ownership with different objectives. Birmingham is seen as a brand with a means to grow business in overseas markets. And it is this increasing feeling of disconnection and departure from the home support that comes across in the book, a feeling familiar to supporters up and down the country. 

Another area that supporters of all clubs will resonate with is the clubs financial performance. Dixon concludes with a chapter on the figures with extracts from the company accounts. It makes for interesting reading with talk of losses, liabilities and cash flow. It highlights the problem of spiralling wages and potentially fatal implications be it relegation or chasing the dream. A sobering end to an excellent book.

Fans often demand investment. Foreign money is attractive and seen as a means to instant success. However, for every Manchester City and Chelsea, there is a Portsmouth or Leeds. For those who want to understand how investment works and cares about their team’s future wellbeing then Blues Insider is a must-read.

Allan Kemp

Born in Suffolk but a Norwich City supporter who is currently exiled in Dallas, US. I am an FA level 2 coach and also a published author, my book of Hall of fame - Norwich City's - All-Time Greats is available from all good bookshops. I am now working on my second book, with Pitch Publishing - Newcastle United Hall of Fame. I'm also a keen reader of football-related books.

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